As destination wedding photographers, we've had clients from all over the world looking to have weddings outside their home countries. People from the UK, the U.S., Russia, China, Korea, Canada, etc. are all seeking to travel as part of their wedding day occasion. As a photographer, I want to travel for weddings as well, so it's a match made in destination wedding heaven.
This led me to my next point, what are the costs and benefits of having a destination wedding? Let's look at the UK as an example. We've had quite a few British clients over the years who opted to go abroad on their wedding days. So I decided to ask one of my UK clients on why they made that choice:
Sarah from Yorkshire said, "The UK is dark and dreary much of the year, so I always dreamed of having my wedding on a tropical beach. When we looked at the costs we found we could have our dream destination wedding, and actually save money."
Sarah proceeded to tell me that with flight, hotel, and wedding costs - her wedding in Mexico was $15,000 compared to the estimated $20,000-$30,000 she would have spent if she stayed at home in the UK. She saved nearly half and was able to have her dream wedding. I think we can call that one a win/win.
However, when I think of having a wedding in the UK or anywhere in Europe, I think to myself, "What a dream!" Beautiful architecture, rolling green hills...what could be better? The grass is greener on the other side of the fence I suppose (literally in the case of the UK).
However, spending habits do differ depending on your country's culture. I had studied abroad in Europe in College (I miss you Barcelona!) and I noticed that Europeans spend their money differently than us "over the top" Americans. So with all this mind I wondered... "How much are Europeans spending on their weddings in their own countries?" The results: Shocking. (Ok, maybe that's "over the top", but I can't help myself).
I did some very unofficial Googling and according to various figures around the web, the average American spends about $30,000 on their wedding day, a nearly 60 billion dollar a year industry. Keep in mind, that the American "average" is a broad number as weddings in New York City average about $80,000 and weddings in Alaska average $15,000. Costs are very region-specific.
When compared to Europe, costs are quite different. During my Googling, I found that Europeans prefer to have much smaller, modest weddings - but it depends on where you are. Europe is big so figures vary a lot, but average wedding costs were about $6,000. However, the UK seems to be catching on to our lavish, American style weddings as they spend about $30,000 per wedding as well (as Sarah stated above), with weddings in London much higher at nearly $40,000. However when surveyed, people from England did say they would rather save for a home rather than spend on a wedding. But as the figures show, they might be doing otherwise.
I did notice, that those in the UK are not spending as much on wedding photography however, and this part is really puzzling to me. Once again, according to The Google they spend about $1100 (+/-) on their wedding photography. This number is so low, compared to an average of $2500 in the U.S. Why is this? Do cameras, lenses and photography bills cost less in the UK? How could a wedding photographer even make a living there? If you have insights, I'd love to hear them!
Now let's consider the opposite. What if someone from the U.S. or Canada would love to have their destination wedding in "dreary ol' England" or swoon-worthy France? Well, I crunched some numbers. It is entirely possible to have a destination wedding in France at a beautiful private Chateau for about the same price as a US wedding (and maybe less!) If I only would have known that, you can guess that getting married in the mid-west, wouldn't have been an option for me. But as they say in France, "C'est La Vie". (Do they really say that?)
This brings me back to me and my dreams. Ahem. My youngest sister and I share a commonality for wanderlust. As you may know, we've spent many years living in the Caribbean and she has lived in New Zealand and now France. I've been begging her to start hanging out with newly-engaged couples (how you do that, I don't know - but make it happen Sam!) in hopes that I can better my chances of shooting a destination wedding in France or the UK, or anywhere in Europe for that matter.
Now as a wedding photographer and no longer a bride, my dream is to shoot a destination wedding in Europe. The UK might be my best bet, since they speak English and I don't speak any French except 'Je ne parle pas français', which means "I don't speak French" (I realize that negates itself). Of course there are English speaking destination weddings in Spain, Italy, Portgal, etc. too - and I'm totally open to do that, just so you know.
In conclusion, destination weddings are all the rage right now and going far from home (even if your home is a dream to me) is an option that can also save you money. Not to mention, having a destination wedding can be special time to bond with friends and family and you get an extra long honeymoon out of the deal. Now then, time for me to plan my vow renewal.... in Europe.